Published In America’s Emerging Writers

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 7.38.51 PMToday I’m happy to announce that my short story (Fruits of the Spirit Daycare) has been accepted by Z Publishing and is included in their America’s Emerging Writers series. You can pre-order a copy of the book, Florida’s Emerging Writers, today by following the link and get it up to two weeks before the official publication date (September 6).

As a further reason why you should check the book out, any money that I raise through this publication will help pay my way to my very first writers’ conference. Going to a writers’ conference has been on my bucket list for literally years, but I’ve never been able to go–nor felt equipped to take such a step forward in my writing career.

But now I’m ready to take a stab at it, and you can help me make it there.

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Seven “Must Haves” for Freshmen Attending Pensacola Christian College

So you’re about to go to college. More specifically, you’re headed off to Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola, Florida. Likely for the first time, you’ll be living mostly on your own and away from your family. Your main concern? You can’t even load the laundry without spilling bleach everywhere.

Don’t worry; I’m totally there with you. When I graduated from high school, Mom had to force me to go shopping for my graduation party. Sucking back tears in Party City, I remember admitting that shopping for graduation decorations was like planning my own funeral.

Life as I knew it was about to change forever.

But don’t panic! College is legit the best years of your life. It’s the perfect category between being a child and adult: You have enough freedom to take on adult responsibilities all within the safety of your family’s health insurance.

A lot of my internet followers found me through my college vlogs (and video projects) on YouTube, and I’m constantly getting questions about PCC, dorm life, tips and hacks, and general inquiries about packing and living as a college student.

In this article, I’m going to give you seven key must-haves as a college student at PCC:

  • Tide Pods
  • Bed Shelves
  • Mattress Pads
  • Hot Pot and Ramen
  • First Aid
  • Winter Clothes
  • Facebook

And if there are any current students or alumni that find this page, feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments!

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First, Tide Pods. Tide Pods are the manna of dorm life (not really. Please. Don’t eat them. Close your mouth. Put it back). But seriously. Tide Pods make laundry at college four times easier. Instead of worrying about liquid or powdered detergent that could spill in the closet, on the floor, or in storage over holidays, you have these nice little squish balls that are easy to store and easy to use.

Literally all you need to do is throw one in with your load of laundry, tap your card, and hit the “start” button. PCC laundry machines aren’t difficult at all (and that’s coming from someone who didn’t learn to work a washer until they were 17. *slaps wrist* Bad, Millennial.)

Second, Bed Shelves. Bed shelves are something that’s unique to PCC culture. The bunks are made with a bar near the head and foot of the bed and almost everyone uses it as a support for some kind of wooden shelf. You can charge your phone at night here, set your coffee down, keep your Bible close, or display pictures of your family and friends back home.

PCC has a set of blueprints you can follow to make your own bed shelf (like I did with my mom), or you can purchase one from small businesses run by college students and staff. I’ll give a shoutout to Noah Frary’s small business, Shelves by Noah. Noah’s a PCC alum, now on staff, who makes bed shelves for incoming PCC students. Check out his Facebook page (by clicking the picture below) to order your own bed shelf.

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Third, Mattress Pads. To be candid, the mattresses at college aren’t angel clouds…. While it isn’t actually as bad as sleeping on a pile of bricks, most college students opt to buy a mattress pad. After all, if you’re like me, someone who perpetually pulls a back or shoulder muscle, you won’t want to be in pain every night if you can help it.

The thing to keep in mind about mattress pads, though, is that they can be difficult to store in the summer. You have to be able to fit all your stuff into 30-34 gallon tubs (for stacking and storage reasons, the college typically won’t accept anything larger). Lots of people solve this problem either by buying a cheap mattress pad and disposing of it, handing it off to a local friend with closet space, or sharing a storage unit and skipping the bins altogether.

Fourth, Hot Pot and Ramen. Hot pots are basically like the college student’s stove top. PCC won’t let you have an open heating element, but hot pots plug straight into the wall and heat electronically. Great for cooking ramen (a college’s student’s staple food), boiling eggs, and anything else food-related in the dorms. One of my friends even claimed he fried potatoes and eggs in his hot pot (he also says he cooked a turkey in his dorm too…and also managed to use a hairdryer to prepare food. So, you know. Ingenuity.)

“IMG_8408”Fifth, First Aid. I’m the pharmacist in my friend group, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been the one to say, “Come to my room; I have something for that.” At college, you tend to get sick easily since you’re living with 5,000 other college students. Last year, the flu went on a rampage, causing students to drop like flies and filling up the isolation sick rooms for several weeks. Here’s a checklist that I and some other college students have compiled:

  • Bandaids and Neosporin (at some point your feet will blister, girls.)
  • Advil (life saver. LIVE. SAVER.)
  • Benadryl (for scary weird bites, allergies, etc.)
  • Mucinex (good for people with sensitive ears on plane rides, head colds, runny nose, etc. etc. etc.)
  • Vitamin C/Emergen-C (lots of college students swear by this, and it supposedly wards off all the college-y sickness. Though frankly I can’t stand the taste.)

Sixth, Winter Clothes. But Jenneth, you say, I’m going to school in Florida! And I say right back to you: Try walking to History of Civ in a skirt in 103% humidity with winds. Doesn’t matter if the temperature is 60 or 6. There’s a good three weeks guaranteed that you’ll be cold, even if it’s comparatively warmer than home. Because the air is wet. At the very least, bring long sleeves and a jacket.

Seventh, Facebook. This one sounds weird, but it’s probably one of the most important must-haves of PCC (at least in my opinion). I’m not talking about a general connection to social media, although I’ll admit Instagram is fairly useful on a college campus. The thing with Facebook is this: it’s more personal, and it’s more professional. Considering that Facebook was literally invented for college students, it’s the social media of the semi-adults.

On Facebook, you can connect easier, faster, and better with friends you’ll make and (hopefully) keep for the rest of your life. But this isn’t even the main reason why I think having Facebook is so important. The real reason is this:

PCCBay. PCCBay is a social network of PCC students that buy and sell things via Facebook. And I’m not kidding. They sell everything. From cheap textbooks, to Fine Arts dresses, to homemade crafts, artwork, and even cars (yes, sometimes cars for outrageously cheap prices). In fact, I know some people who actually make a living off of PCCBay. Someone I know cuts hair for the guys in the dorms, and he makes enough to quit his job at the local mall. I’m serious.

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Another plug here: Facebook also is home of the PCC Student Discussion Page, which was a spin-off of PCCBay in an effort to keep the market more streamlined. The discussion page is for current students to talk about the chapel messages, classes, events, questions, and anything else college related. In fact, it’s a great place for rising freshmen to get connected before the semester begins. Last year, students listed detailed tips about college life and hacks that freshmen otherwise wouldn’t know about (like cultural, unwritten rules like never take the elevator to second or third floor, and tap your foot against the library door before you open it to avoid electrocution).

Here’s a list of Facebook pages for PCC students that can be extremely helpful (or entertaining):


Of course I can’t go into all the tips and tricks of PCC dorm life (unless I wanted to devote a whole blog series to it…which isn’t half a bad idea). But these seven tips will be hugely beneficial to an incoming freshman.

If there are any PCC students or alumni, sound off in the comments! I’d love to hear everyone else’s ideas, tricks, and tips for incoming PCC freshmen. I know they helped me a lot when I was a freshie.

Seven Ways to Write Betrayal in Your Novel

I don’t know if I’m just sadistic, or if I have some deep buried emotional trauma from my past, or I’m just a stereotypical writer who likes to bring emotional tragedy on her readers…but I’ve always loved betrayal. I love reading it, writing it–it doesn’t matter.

If I really had to guess why betrayal has always been my go-to literary plot device, it might have something to do with the way I think of loyalty. Loyalty is one of the most important qualities a person could have, in my opinion. And sadly, because we’re human, we rarely find that friend who’s loyal until the end.

We’re all disappointed by one another at some point in our lives, but luckily, it’s a common wound we all share, which makes betrayal in novels a powerful tool to wound your readers, yet still have them come crawling back for more.

I’m going to be using the following examples from TV and literature, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, run awaaaay: Treasure Planet, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1, Star Wars, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Inkheart, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Legend by Marie Lu, Mean Girls, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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An Interview with Best-Selling Author Robert Liparulo

When I was a senior in high school, I got the once-in-a-rarity opportunity to interview my favorite author. I grew up reading Robert Liparulo’s teen fiction in junior high. In fact, when the books were coming out, I remember actually having fights with my friends over who got to read the next one first. One particular instance involved me throwing Whirlwind on the table between my two friends as they both dove for it, pleading to the others’ humanity, bribing each other for the chance to read it first.

Good times.

Anyway, the following interview was turned in for my senior writing class, now resurrected here on my blog:

 

220px-Robert_Liparulo,R1-05ARobert Liparulo is the bestselling Christian author of the widely acclaimed teen fiction Dreamhouse Kings series, as well as his adult fiction such as Comes a Horseman, Germ, and his adult series The Immortal Files.

As a creative writing student and a Christian YA author wannabe—not to mention a huge fan of Liparulo’s works—I immediately wanted to try meeting with him for an interview assignment. We worked out a time through email, and I had the privilege to meet with him via Skype Saturday night. Mr. Liparulo was extremely nice and a blast to talk to—very warm and friendly, and he had a great laugh!

Robert Liparulo

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Obon Festival Returns July 14 (Burke Connection)

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Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 7.25.15 PMObon Festival Returns July 14
The Fairfax Station Ekoji Buddhist Temple prepares to host its annual festival for everyone in the community.

The Ekoji Buddhist Temple off the Fairfax County Parkway in Fairfax Station will be hosting the only Obon festival in the Washington DC area July 14. Admission is free, and the temple invites all visitors, no matter their religion or culture, to celebrate the annual event.

“It’s a time to show your gratitude and respect to all those people who’ve passed away before us, because they made the world; we are the next generation,” said Reverend Nariaki Rajan Hayashi, who has been Ekoji’s minister for the past three years.

Because of the growing number of visitors per year, with last year’s attendance at 1,700, the Ekoji Temple plans to extend its hours for the festival. The temple and grounds will be open starting at 3 p.m. and will continue until 9 p.m.

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Serving Meals and Blessings to Homeless (Profile: Vienna Connection)

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Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 7.02.52 PM.pngServing Meals and Blessings to Homeless
Karen Curtis of Antioch Christian Church helps feed 100+ visitors of the Lamb Center, a Fairfax homeless ministry

The minivan comes to a stop in one of the few remaining parking spaces outside the Lamb Center in Fairfax. Seatbelts pop and side doors roll open as a handful of members from Antioch Christian Church climb out of the gray-green vehicle to help unload the back.

Three crockpots full of homemade chili and nearly 100 baked potatoes are nestled in the back of the van, all prepared specifically for the homeless people who frequent the Lamb Center—a Christian-based ministry that serves people experiencing homelessness in Fairfax County. Continue reading

Burke Community’s ‘Living Room’ Relocating in July (Burke Connection)

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Burke Community’s ‘Living Room’ Relocating in July (Burke Connection)
The 20-year-old Hopsfrog Grille plans to expand its service by moving to a larger location

“The owners are very good people. They care about what they’re serving and how [the customers] get served,” said Paul Fouché, a customer at Hopsfrog Grille for 20 years.

In fact, manager Kostas Daskalakis cares so much, that he’s decided to expand his local bar and grill mid-July to accommodate more customers. Affectionately referred to as the community’s “living room,” the future Hopsfrog Grille is under construction only a mile away in the Walmart shopping center on Burke Commons Road.

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